(9th March, 2006) This year’s Ladies’ English Open at Chart Hills Golf Club has been moved to October 6-8.
In a one-off move, officials at the host Kent club and the Ladies’ European Tour opted to reschedule the popular event from its traditional July slot after the American-based LPGA scheduled its two-million dollar HSBC World Women’s Matchplay event on the same weekend.
The clash means that the Ladies’ English Open, which has grown impressively in stature and visitor numbers year on year since moving to Chart Hills in 2003, will be almost certainly deprived of the mass media coverage needed to help maintain the growth of the event in the south-east of England.
David Walls, the sales and marketing director for the Leaderboard Group which owns Chart Hills, said: “For the long-term benefit of the Ladies’ English Open, we have decided to move the event to October.
“We feel that we would be letting down the ladies of the European Tour if we decided to go head to head with the US-based LPGA and its HSBC World Matchplay in July. It’s a huge event and we would lose worldwide press attention as we would be overshadowed by another major sporting event.
“The dedicated players who compete on our Tour week in week out simply don’t deserve to lose that kind of exposure.”
Walls also cited the potential and devastating lack of media coverage as a major blow to attracting big investors who he said were imperative to growing the profile and awareness of the Ladies’ English Open.
He said: “Losing extensive media coverage and players to the big American matchplay event would not only be bad news for the tournament, the club and its supporters but would be a huge blow to sponsors at a time when we are looking to grow the event and secure it as a permanent fixture in the south-east of England.”
The Ladies’ English Open has been a big success story and a growing concern since it was first hosted by Chart Hills three years ago, and the club is committed to hosting the event until at least 2010.
Walls said: “Last year, 22,000 people swarmed through the gates to witness some of the biggest names in European ladies’ golf battle it out over three glorious days – twice as many people who attended the previous year.
“Avoiding a clash with the world matchplay in the United States can help us make it even bigger and better than ever – an event that will reverberate and live long in the memory across not only the south-east of England but the country as a whole.”
Walls added that the Ladies’ English Open would return to its traditional July slot in 2007.